SAN FRANCISCO -- A pitcher who two years ago was stuck at his 10th minor-league stop put the Giants into Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.
Righthander Ryan Vogelsong allowed only one run and four hits in seven innings and struck out a career-high nine as the Giants defeated the Cardinals, 6-1, Sunday night at AT&T Park.
"He did everything he wanted to us,'' Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
So the Cardinals, who led the series 3-1 after Thursday night, and the Giants will play tonight to determine who will host the American League champion Tigers on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the World Series.
The Cardinals won the world championship last year -- they are trying to become the first National League team to repeat since the 1975-76 Reds -- and the Giants won it in 2010.
Vogelsong held the Cardinals hitless through 42/3 innings, carrying through on a promise that he would be "ready'' for what would be the biggest game of a career that began in 1998.
After Vogelsong had Tommy John surgery in 2003, his odyssey wove its way through Pittsburgh, two teams in Japan and minor-league stops such as San Jose, Calif., and Altoona, Pa.
"We've had trouble with him," Matheny said of Vogelsong, who also was the winner of Game 2. "He's made great pitches against us, and we've made very little adjustments. He's not making that many mistakes, so that's a tough combination for us."
When the Cardinals finally got a run in the sixth, they had been held scoreless for 15 consecutive innings, including the 5-0 shutout Friday.
St. Louis righthander Chris Carpenter, a former NL Cy Young Award winner, had his second straight poor start as he attempted to come back from July surgery after experiencing numbness in his pitching arm.
In Game 2, Carpenter went four innings and gave up five runs. In Game 6, it was the same -- four innings, five runs, although only two of them were earned.
"We got some runs early," the 35-year-old Vogelsong said, "and that changes how you attack. I wanted to keep them off the board. When I was standing on the mound tonight and heard the fans chanting 'Vogey, Vogey,' I got chills."
The Giants have been given an offensive jolt by second baseman Marco Scutaro, acquired in a trade with Colorado near the end of July. Scutaro, injured in Game 2 when Matt Holliday tried to break up a double play, has not been out of the lineup.
Scutaro scored two runs in Game 6 and drove in two with a second-inning double.
"I can't say enough of what he's done for us," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's such a good, smart player and a clutch player."
San Francisco was down 2-0 to Cincinnati in the best-of-five NLCS before winning three in a row on the road.
Asked about the Giants winning a fifth time to avoid elimination in this postseason, Bochy said, "It says a lot about the character of the club and the never-say-die attitude. We know what's at stake. You go out there and play like there's no tomorrow."